You don’t have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to disagree with factory farming. Even if you are somebody who has no issues with eating meat there is a lot to dislike about the process which provides us with the majority of our meat.
One of the issues with farmyard animals as a source of protein is the inefficiency. It takes roughly 6kg of plant protein in order to produce 1kg of animal protein. So effectively what we are doing is wasting food by feeding it to farmyard animals such as cows.
It might be the case that consumers like meat, but it is fairly evident that this is just wasteful. Especially when you consider that there are more than 1 billion people malnourished on our planet and the grain that is used to feed animal could feed up to three billion people.
This point is quite contentious but there are links between eating a lot of meat, red meat in particular, and certain conditions such as heart disease and strokes. These conditions are far less prevalent in people with a plant-based diet. As most vegans will argue in the modern world we don’t “need” to eat meat.
Factory farming doesn’t just affect the environment in the way that you might think. Sure all of the machinery involved adds to its carbon footprint but the problem is the emissions from the animals themselves. The vast majority of methane (a greenhouse gas) in our atmosphere comes from cattle, in particular from their burps! And with the market rapidly growing and global warming becoming increasingly problematic this isn’t just a factor we can overlook.
The care of the animals
There is a lot of people who are okay with eating meat and I would never be critical of those people. But there are also a lot of people that plump for free-range eggs ahead of battery eggs. The reason for this is the poor conditions in which the animals are kept. This is a big deal for a lot of people. Often in factory farms space is very limited and animals are treated poorly. The emphasis is on squeezing as many animals into a small space as possible to provide the greatest possible output.
The other resources used
As previously mentioned keeping animals in the way that we do in order to maximise profits uses a lot of crops. But it also requires a great deal of space. Not just space to hold the animals themselves but often space to grow the crops needed to feed the animals. When space isn’t available quite often deforestation can occur to create farming space.
Deforestation has a small influence on the Carbon Dioxide level in the environment, but perhaps worst of all it can cause the loss of unique habitats and ultimately the demise of rare species through the destruction of their home life.
It also drains a lot of electric which adds to the destructive nature of the practices.
How can you help?
Obviously, it is difficult for one person campaigning to make any difference. But like all things the use of factory farms is driven by money. It is a simple case of supply and demand and while there is such a global demand for meat it will inevitably be produced in this way.
Therefore the best way you can have an impact is to reduce your meat and dairy intake or stop it altogether. If enough people did this then there would be a lot less factory farming as it wouldn’t be financially viable. And as Gandhi once said you have to be the change you want to see in the world.